When you’re looking for an acoustic guitar on a budget there are many factors to consider. Whether you’re an adult beginner or getting a first instrument for your child, price range, brand name, what the guitar comes with and what you’d like to do with the guitar are all things to ponder before buying the guitar.
You should also be aware that there are two basic types of acoustic guitar: steel string and nylon string. The characteristics of steel string guitars include a bigger, brighter sound often found in popular styles like country, blues, jazz and rock and roll while a nylon guitar has a softer warmer sound and is often championed by folk or classical guitarists.
If you’re a beginner you’re going to want to know that nylon string guitars often have a wider fingerboard which will cause a little more difficulty in playing due to bigger stretches for fingerings and chord shapes when getting started.
I’ve taken a look at five brands and five particular models sold on Amazon including guitars by Taylor, Fender, Yamaha, Epiphany and Oscar Schmidt. With all apologies to Keith Urban and “Esteban” I recommend avoiding guitars with celebrity names on them.
First up is the Epiphone DR-100 Vintage Sunburst
It features a 14-degree headstock that gives you more pressure at the nut and is available in ebony, natural and vintage sunburst.
This is a solid if unspectacular and inexpensive beginner guitar and an Epihone hard case is available.
If you’re planning on taking your guitar with you, perhaps to weekly lessons or on your travels, a solid case is recommended.
The Gibson Guitar Corporation owns and produces Epiphone electric and acoustic guitars for considerably less than Gibsons and this Epiphone is a good “first” guitar.
Next is the Oscar Schmidt OG2SM Guitar
Spalted wood is a term that describes any type of maple that has been allowed to decay and then dry, creating a rather stunning visual effect.
It’s a dreadnought style guitar with catalpa sides and back a high gloss finish and rosewood fingerboard and bridge.
The Oscar Schmidt Company was very popular in the early part of the last century producing autoharps, parlor guitars and many other stringed instruments.
The third guitar we’re featuring is the Yamaha C40 Classical Guitar
Using an interesting wood called Indonesian mahogany on the sides and the back and a spruce top with a Javanese rosewood fingerboard with 19 frets this guitar offers a limited lifetime warranty.
As a teacher and player I know Yamaha makes solid beginner instruments and if you want to get started with the nylon string sound with what this comes with this is an inexpensive entry into the wonderful world of guitar playing.
Just let those fingernails grow, as the nylon string is conducive to finger picking styles.
The next guitar brand on our list is a very well known name, from famed luthier Leo Fender
This guitar features a laminated mahogany top, back and sides with scalloped x-bracing.
X-bracing has become an almost industry standard as designed by the Martin guitar company, and scalloped bracing allows for a wide range of tones without sacrificing the low end.
Fender of course built it’s storied reputation on electric solid body guitars and for many years their acoustic guitars were not highly considered.
Over the years that perception has changed and Fender is now producing solid beginner to intermediate level acoustic instruments.
Finally we offer the Taylor Guitars GS Mini Acoustic Guitar
aylor is the most prestigious acoustic guitar company on this list and for good reason: Taylor competes with Martin as the top acoustic guitar company, and Taylor does produce more models in a lower price range.
They are well known to make quality instruments for intermediate and professional level players alike and have innovative designs including a patented bolt-on neck they call the new technology neck and their own pickup system for amplifying the natural and beautiful sound of their acoustic instruments.
With Taylor’s high end and consistent production they simply make great acoustic guitars.
I speak from experience as a proud owner of a slightly higher end Taylor with built in electronics for performing and recording that I absolutely adore.
Whether you are looking for the gritty sound of a hardened country rocker, the soul of an early country bluesman, the refined tone of a folkie singer/songwriter or the biting sting of a concert guitarist playing the sweet strains of Johann Sebastian Bach or the tortured music of Beethoven you can do so with these five best acoustic guitars for the money.
If you are just getting started and want to try the guitar with the lowest investment but aren’t sure if playing music is for you the Epiphone is probably your best bet.
With what it comes with including an instructional DVD, the Yamaha C40 acoustic guitar package offers the best overall value for a beginner guitar hunter on a budget. And the best news is that as you progress and begin to excel as a guitarist, you can always upgrade to something bigger and better.
I hope this simple guide helps you on your quest to find that first great guitar. In my experience learning and playing the guitar has been one of the most rewarding human endeavors and I wish you well on the journey. Now choose a guitar and get started!